Who doesn’t love pastry? And who in Colorado hasn’t struggled with flat cakes, collapsed cookies, and other blame-it-on-the-altitude baking problems? We’re thrilled to be offering a high-altitude baking class Wednesday, September 16 featuring Susan G. Purdy, whose book Pie In the Sky: Successful High-Altitude Baking debunks high-altitude myths and will help you hit a home run every time you bake in Colorful Colorado. Susan is consistently ranked as the queen of high-altitude, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to learn from her years of baking wisdom.
To celebrate, here are a few fun facts about altitude and baking:
- Why your recipes fail: Leaving user error out of the question, recipes often fail at altitude because of three factors: lower boiling point of water [takes longer for moist, batter-based cakes to bake through], faster moisture evaporation [baking ratios are off and dryness becomes a problem], and quick-expanding leavening gases [too much rising with quick sinking].
- No stiff peaks: Next time you’re whipping up a meringue, resist the temptation to create stiff peaks. At Colorado-level altitudes, leavening gases mean that your whipped peaks will collapse in no time. Go for a soft peak instead.
- Beef up your cakes: Cakes especially are susceptible to elevation gaffes, since they rise quickly and can fall fast. Try replacing liquid with an acidic dairy product like buttermilk, yogurt, or milk. You’ll get a great tang, and the batter won’t wilt in the oven.
- Go regional: There’s a reason tortillas and flatbreads originated in high desert and mountainous regions: they don’t fail at altitude! Don’t give up on high-altitude baking, but don’t despair…there are plenty of recipes that won’t give you a struggle if you’re tired of over-proofed bread or collapsed cake.
Photo via Kanko*